South Dakota needs more college graduates, expert says

South Dakota needs more college graduates, expert says
In order for South Dakota businesses to remain competitive globally, the state will need to produce more college graduates in the years ahead, a national expert told a group of South Dakota business, education, and government leaders this week.

Travis Reindl, program director for Jobs for the Future, told South Dakota's new P21 Advisory Council that South Dakota does relatively well in the number of college graduates it produces now, but the state will need to ramp up that output significantly to remain competitive with best-performing countries over the next 20 years. Based in Boston, Jobs for the Future is a national organization working with the Lumina Foundation for Education on a major initiative to promote higher education systems that meet 21st-century demands.

Reindl's data show about 38 percent of South Dakota adults ages 25-64 currently have some type of postsecondary degree (at the associate level or higher). But the state will need at least 55 percent of its adult population armed with a postsecondary degree by 2025 to stay on par with other best-performing countries such as Germany and Sweden.

"We don't have a person to waste," Reindl told council members. "This is a national imperative. We need to increase our degree attainment in order to compete globally. No longer is the competition for South Dakota businesses the community just down the road, or the neighboring state, it is competition on a global scale."

� In particular, Reindl said South Dakota will need to find new ways to serve a growing number of adult, low-income, and Native American students, all groups who historically have been under-represented in the higher education classroom.

Reindl spoke to the P21 Advisory Council, which was created by Gov. Mike Rounds to help guide South Dakota's efforts to produce students with 21st-century skills for tomorrow's workforce. South Dakota became the fifth state nationally to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills' State Leadership Initiative, which teams with national business leaders to promote the teaching and learning of 21st-century skills.

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